Jonathan Chandler Webb


The Desert and The Sea

Once a week or so I’m going to write about a book I’ve recently read that I think you will enjoy. These book reviews will hopefully be interesting and spur you on to read more! I love to read, it is my favorite hobby and you can always find me with a book in my hand. I read fiction and non-fiction but will primarily keep these reviews to non-fiction. Below is the first installment…I hope you enjoy!

The Desert and The Sea

This book jumped off the shelf at me. Full disclosure, I had no idea who Michael Scott Moore was prior to reading this book. I was fascinated by the premise and wanted to give it a try.

You see, I love political thrillers. I probably read 15-20 fiction political thrillers in a year and am always looking for something new to get my hands on. If I can find a non-fiction book that reads like a fiction book…then I grab it no questions asked! This book is certainly in that category. This is a real story from a real journalist who was taken hostage by Somali pirates.

Mr. Moore is a journalist who at the time of this book was living in Berlin. He traveled to Somalia to do some research for a potential book on the Somali pirates, their way of life, and what drives them to do what they do. While in Somalia, he is taken hostage by pirates and held for almost 3 years. That’s right, almost 3 years! Think about that.

This book is fascinating on a number of levels but let me point out 2 for you.

1- The book really brings out the humanity of the pirates. Its not that ‘root for the bad guy’ thing that happens sometimes when you are watching a movie. But, it is this idea that they have families, they are stuck in tremendous poverty, and they feel pretty hopeless. You never get the sense that Mr. Moore feels sorry for them or that he is comfortable with his situation obviously, but you do get a glimpse inside their world. We typically enter a book with a particular frame of reference and I did that here. However, I felt as if I was right there in the room at times and really appreciated the honesty in terms of the banter between Mr. Moore and his captors.

2- The network and organization of the pirate community was something I had never considered prior to reading this book. There were numerous people involved, from the guys actually holding Mr. Moore hostage to the negotiators working to acquire a ransom. Reading this book brought a new level of understanding on how many people are required to pull off something like this. Its not just one or two guys randomly grabbing someone and holding them for ransom.

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you enjoy intrigue and suspense. This book brings a humanity and first-hand perspective to a real political issue. There are so many unique characters here like in any exciting fiction book, expect this is not fiction! There are pirates, there are the other hostages Mr. Moore comes into contact with throughout his stay, and there is Mr. Moore’s mom working with the FBI to get him released. There is also potential rescue options, some private contractors working in the area, and so much more.

Grab this book and spend some time reading it this week. You will not be disappointed!


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